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Immigrant Children Must Be Released from Detention Within Five Days

As expected, federal district court Judge Dolly Gee ruled in favor of immigrant children in the suit that was brought in February 2015, alleging that the government had breached a 1997 settlement agreement in which the government agreed not to detain such children anymore. The recent ruling in Flores follows from a July 2015 decision, in which the court concluded that the government was in violation of the terms of the original Flores settlement, which was intended to ensure the proper care of children in immigration custody. In her most recent August decision, Judge Gee ruled that children should generally be released from detention within five days and preferably to a parent, including a parent with whom they were apprehended. Although the court gave the government some latitude to exceed the five-day limit in the event of an emergency or influx of minors into the United States, the decision emphasizes that this should be the exception, not the rule. The government must implement the court’s ruling by October 23, 2015. Although the government can still appeal the ruling, it is not expected to do so. Advocates, members of Congress, and more recently, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have urged the Administration to comply with the judge’s order.